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Four Rare Domestic Cat Breeds

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

We covered some of the rarest dog breeds in the world here and here, but now it's time for some felines!

Turkish Van

Solid white Turkish Van with Heterochromia

The Turkish Van is a very rare and odd breed of cat. The coat and coloring are the highlight of this cat. The classic coloring is white all over, with dark coloring on the tail and on the top of the head, and less frequently, on the back between the shoulder blades. This color pattern is referred to as a "Van" pattern. The Van's coat is naturally water resistant as a result of its silky texture, and presumably because it is only one coat. The Van loves water, and can immerse itself, swimming happily for long periods of time, and come out relatively dry. It does not have to deal with the usual cat inconveniences of having its hair pasted to its body, or of having to spend an hour fluffing its fur out to dry with its paws and tongue. Another benefit of its soft fur is resistance to matting. Very little grooming is required. A note about color selection; solid white Turkish Vans have a high rate of blindness and deafness, so selecting one with the dark patches may be in your best interest.

The eye color is also quite unique, as the breed very commonly has two different colored eyes (heterochromia), but the eyes can also both be amber, yellow, green, or blue!

The coat begins short at birth and grows in gradually over a period of three to five years, so that the kittens will be shorthair in appearance, with thin tails, but as they mature, the fur on the chest will fill out, and the tail will thicken into a full brush tail. The tail does not shed hair or change according to the season, but remains long and full. The ears remain feathered with fur, so that even with its summer coat, the Van looks soft and fluffy.

The Turkish Van is extremely energetic and active. It is always on the move, jumping on shelves, prancing about the house or simply amusing itself by playing a game. It is not known for being a floor cat, preferring to be at the top of everything, watching the happenings below. High energy paired with a love of high places makes the Van a bit careless when it comes to ornaments you might find valuable but which the Van finds to be simple obstructions. If you have settled on a Van as the companion you want to bring into your home, expect things to be knocked from shelves. If you are a collector of objects, you will want to prevent the loss of your treasured objects by keeping them low and safe. Use the high shelves for unbreakable objects. Like a lion, the Van loves to survey its "pride" from on high, secure in its home and the people it has bonded with. And like a lion, the Van is known for being brave, and for being an excellent hunter. It can be very protective, growling when it hears unusual sounds from outside. The Van cat builds a strong, close bond with one or two people, remaining devoted for a lifetime; it does not do well to change owners. It loves to go swimming, so you'll frequently find the cat in the swimming pool or lake (if you have them nearby). The fascination with water extends to all water, so care is necessary when it comes to the bathroom. Keeping the toilet closed is important for your cat's safety. Otherwise, allowing your Van to play with the faucets, or with bowls of water, will be an ideal recreation. The cat is also very vocal and loves to be the center of attention, especially during dinner.

This cat breed has lived in the Lake Van region of Turkey (and the areas bordering it) for centuries, hence its name, and it has been recorded in various forms for at least 5,000 years.


A lovely Peterbald kitten

When folks think about a quintessential hairless cat breed, their minds will probably go right to the Sphynx. But believe it or not, there are many other types of hairless cat breeds available on the market. One such cat is the rare the Peterbald. This unusual cat has a ton of distinct features, from its huge ears to its webbed toes. But what he is truly known for is his friendly, affectionate, and dog-like personality. This breed actually has five very different recognized coat variations including bald, flocked (which is 90% hairless), velour (70% hairless), brush (fine coat), and straight (a normal short coat with whiskers). Grooming requirements are minimal.

First developed in 1994 by a Russian cat breeder named Olga Miranova who crossed a Sphynx with an Oriental Shorthair for many generations, the Peterbald has been experiencing a surge in popularity in recent years. However, despite this rapid rise in popularity, the Peterbald still remains a very rare purebred cat, with most being produced from occasional litters in Russia, Ukraine, and parts of Europe. The breed is exceptionally rare in the United States.

An adult Peterbald

This breed is remarkably affectionate, so much so that many fanciers describe it as clingy and emotionally dependant. With that in mind, they don't tend to do well if left alone at home for long periods of time. If you seek one out, you may be better off acquiring two so they can keep each other company.

Scottish Fold

Scottish Fold

With just one look at the Scottish Fold cat, it’s easy to see how this breed got its name! With their folded ears and sweet expressions, these family-friendly cats are cute beyond compare. Scottish Fold cats get along well with kids and other pets, including friendly cats and well-behaved dogs.

Gentle and playful, Scottish Fold cats are less rambunctious than many other breeds. They are happy to spend time simply enjoying your company, and they're likely to follow you throughout the house as you complete your daily routine. They do not handle being left alone for long periods of time, and do best with a feline companion if you will be frequently out of the home.

If you're someone who is looking for a cat that likes to converse, consider a Scottish Fold. Some vocal breeds like the Siamese are quite loud, but the Scottish Fold's voice is much quieter. These cats can develop quite an interesting vocabulary, which they use to express themselves and chat to you about everything from the level of food in their dish to the fact that it's time for you to wake up in the morning. Talk to a Scottish Fold, and you can expect quite a bit of chatter in return.

A note about the Fold in Scottish Folds: this is a genetic mutation linked to softer-than-normal cartilage. Due to this gene, many Scottish Folds can develope joint problems not typically seen in cats and often require special medicinal attention at an earlier age for things such as aching joints and orthopedic injuries. A possible solution, if you are interested in this breed but don't want to risk the potential health issues, is the variety with stronger cartilage - the Scottish Straight, which has erect ears!

Scottish Straight

Norwegian Forest Cat

Adult Norwegian Forest Cat

Striking looks and a warm personality help the Norwegian Forest Cat stand out from the crowd. This exquisite long-haired cat breed is an ancient one, with ample intelligence, fantastic social skills, and an appreciation for all of life's comforts. Even though the Norwegian Forest Cat comes from a cold climate, these cats love to keep warm. They appreciate an indoor lifestyle with plenty of soft, comfortable surfaces to accommodate frequent naps, and high perches from which they can observe their pride! They also have an appreciation for their human families, but affection takes place on their terms rather than yours and they handle being left alone better than other cats on this list. The Norwegian Forest Cat might decide to cuddle up in your lap or sleep on your pillow, but doesn't typically enjoy being picked up or held when it's not the cat's idea. Despite the breed’s reputation for having quite an independent streak, Norwegian Forest Cats are loyal to their favorite people and are perfectly capable of making friends with other pets, including well behaved dogs and other friendly cats.

If you see similarities between the Norwegian Forest Cat and the Maine Coon, you’re not imagining things! The two breeds do have quite a bit in common, including large stature, ultra-thick fur, and exceptional hunting prowess. Some experts believe that Norwegian Forest Cats might be one of the breeds that contributed to the development of the Maine Coon (which, like the Norwegian Forest Cat, is a natural breed that was not specifically developed by humans). The most obvious differences between a well bred Norwegian and a well bred Maine Coon are the face structure and the coat. The Norwegian has a much bigger coat, on average, and the Maine Coon typically carries a face structure that is set in a bit of a downward scowl.

Honorable mentions; the Ojos Azules

Ojos Azules

The Ojos Azules (named for its blue eyes) is a breed of domestic cat that carries with it a lethal side effect colloquially known as the Ojos-Azules-gene. Almost all breeders stopped working with this breed due to the Ojos-Azules-gene and the breed has become officially extinct. Despite this, an individual or two still pop up on the market, but they command a very high price. It is generally advised to avoid purchasing the breed if you do see it for sale, however, due to the likelihood of intense inbreeding as a result of such an incredibly tiny gene pool.


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